Review: HP G6-2067CA Laptop

I’ve been overall pleased with my previous laptop, the HP G60-230CA, which I purchased in early 2009. A few years later, it’s still capable, but as observed previously is a bit weak in the graphics department. This was becoming apparent in some newer applications, such as Heroes of Might and Magic 5, which would run, but slowly with the settings at minimum. Another motivation was in being able to run the newer Adobe Creative Suite applications, which place more demand on graphics processors than previously. Also, I experiment with virtual machines, and the G60 doesn’t have hardware support for virtualization, at least not that I found.

Being a university student, the replacement system would of course be a laptop. I wanted similar size and portability, native virtualization support, more graphics power, and perhaps a better screen resolution. I got most of what I wanted in the HP G6-2067CA laptop.

The new laptop, unpackedStandard packaging contents

Overview of the laptop

  • Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 x64
  • 6GB RAM
  • 750GB hard drive
  • AMD Dual-Core A6-4400M Processor
  • AMD Radeon HD 7520G + 7670M dual switchable graphics
  • 15.6-inch widescreen display, 1366×768
  • Full-size island-style keyboard, with numeric keypad
  • VGA, HDMI, 3 USB 3.0 ports

Observations

An immediate gain with the newer hardware was 64-bit support, which allows use of more than 3GB of memory. This required me to get some newer versions of free and paid software optimized for 64-bit systems, but was otherwise a welcome change. Also noticeable was the speed and responsiveness. Of course this is going to happen with a brand-new system compared to a nearly four-year-old model, but I was especially pleased with the graphics support. HoMM5 now runs quite smoothly with increased quality settings – I now have an eye on trying out the new Heroes 6 sometime soon.

Hardware-based virtualization was one of my desires, so I determined that most (if not all) recent AMD processors have this capability built-in. It was a matter of enabling the functionality; this required booting into the BIOS (by pressing F10 st startup), going into System Configuration, then Virtualization Technology, and toggling the enabled value. While here, I also disabled the Action Keys Mode setting, which has the fn functionality on by default, one of my peeves with newer keyboards. Naturally, a subsequent BIOS update reset these settings to their default values, so I had to revisit the BIOS and reconfigure.

Keyboard with half-size left shift keyThe half-size shift key, for the sake of a redundant key, is pointless

As mentioned in my previous review, I don’t like the fn functionality; unfortunately, manufacturers seem tho think this is a must-have feature, so I have little choice but to live with it. As I also pointed out previously, the left shift key is half size, as shown at left. Another key annoyance is the arrow keys: the left and right keys are full size, but the up and down keys are half-height and share the same horizontal space between the other two keys. Aiming for either of the up or down keys usually results in hitting the other one. Related is the trackpad; it’s not smooth, but has some kind of textured surface, which makes moving around on it a little harder than it needs to be. At home I use an external keyboard and mouse on my desk, so these are minor issues in general.

Keyboard with small arrow keysThe up and down arrow keys are half-height, and share a space between the other arrow keys

The base operating system is Windows 7 (64 bit) with SP1. I already reviewed Windows 7 following its release, and not much has changed for my uses, aside from the additional memory support and updated applications, so I won’t go into that. This being a new system, I wonder about the potential support for the upcoming Windows 8. Microsoft have already stated that hardware running Windows 7 should also be able to run Windows 8, so it may come down to driver support. That just might happen given how relatively new this system is. Time will tell!

The graphics support is super, but most mainstream laptops still default to the 1366×768 screen resolution. One of my wants was a better resolution, but my research indicated that usually bumps the size and/or cost of the laptop, so I gave way on that. Fortunately I can connect a 23-inch LCD monitor on my desk via the HDMI-out, so it’s less of an issue when I’m at home.

This laptop has similar dimensions compared to the previous one, though is a bit thinner and lighter. Portability matters to me – I didn’t want to haul around a desktop replacement. Most ultrabooks I looked at in stores were also out since they had weaker graphics capabilities and were usually more expensive.

Summary

  • Pros

    • graphics power
    • native virtualization
    • more memory
  • Cons

    • screen resolution
    • textured trackpad
    • half-size arrow keys

Overall I’d say the niggles are minor and easily outweighed by the positive aspects.

The bottom line

This laptop is suitable for most typical users. Absent the need for ultraportability, or for more graphics or processing power than available here, I can recommend this laptop with minor reservations.